…didn’t happen! I was writing about making plans in yesterday’s post but on Friday, that is today as I write, I overslept. Over sleeping isn’t really true for had I not needed the sleep I wouldn’t have taken it. In real terms it meant I awakened at nine-thirty instead of eight o’clock which would be more my usual time. So it wasn’t the sleeping-in that prevented my doing some more work in the cellar but more the other things which got in the way. Prayer time, a shower, getting dressed, applying make-up, putting the soiled towels into the washing machine which had piled-up during the week and chatting with E all before I grabbed a quick breakfast, those were the things which prevented any work being done before noon. Following that I decided to venture out into the rear garden to sweep up the enormous piles of fallen ivy and some holly leaves that had been nicely stored in a couple of places by the high wind. It was another miserably cold day though it was showing signs of getting warmer for the snow had been slowly melting. According to the forecast it would be far warmer by the following Monday. It was now almost twelve o’clock and time to return indoors to thaw out! I had been to the garage to collect the brush and bucket with which to sweep the leaves but returned later to empty out some things from my van and sort them out for storage. Now it was time to hang the washing after which I fitted a coat hook behind one of the doors upstairs. I was about to prepare lunch when E asked if I could help search for something in the cellar so off we went to do that. I had lost count of the number of trips to the cellar I had made in the previous couple of hours which is often quite normal in this house! At last it was time for lunch, it was one forty-five. By the time I had finished lunch I was in no mood for starting work, which would have been painting the room in the cellar. What can I say? There’s always tomorrow.
I had all sorts of things I wanted to do on Saturday (22nd) but my day started little later than I had planned, nevertheless I was downstairs before nine and had eaten breakfast by then too. The plan was to do more work in the lounge but it was such a lovely sunny day I decided not to spend too long working. I began by finishing applying a coat of gloss paint to the remainder of the picture rail, the door frame and the door. I decided not to paint the skirting boards or the fire surround (mantlepiece) for doing that would keep me working all morning and possibly into the afternoon. I wasn’t prepared to do that. Even so I spent almost two hours doing what I did then stopped to do a little work in the garden. Usually when I say garden it is invariably the rear garden as I spend less time working in the front garden which needs less maintenance. Monday was going to be collection day for the ‘green’ waste so I had to empty out the large bag which held the remaining bluebells and other plants which couldn’t be collected the previous time. There were other waste items to dispose of too, some large shrub root balls and leaves. I couldn’t place all the root balls in the bins as there wouldn’t be enough space for them this time around. They will go next time. I needed to leave enough space in one of the bins to accommodate the grass cuttings I was about to produce, yes, it was time to cut the lawn once more. So I mowed the lawn and pulled the now filled bins into the front garden ready to put out in the street on Sunday evening. Time for lunch but for a change I went to the pub. It isn’t often I eat at the pub on a Saturday as I am usually too busy working. After a change of clothes I walked to the pub in the lovely sunshine. I had expected the place to be full but it wasn’t so I didn’t have to wait long to be served. As usual the girls greeted me by name (they do that for most of the regular customers) and made me feel welcome. I seem to get special treatment from one or two of them who like to chat with me. Anyway it was a pleasant hour or two and I walked back home. I hung the washing on the lines in the cellar having forgotten I had placed it in the machine earlier. I could have hung it outside but I often don’t do that. Left to dry in the cellar means I can casually take it down when it suits and don’t have to worry about the weather. I made a coffee and sat out in the sun on the patio but after a while I’d had enough of that. I remembered that I needed to clear out the gutter on the rear of the garage roof overlooking the Plot and at the same time adjust the set time on the small floodlight nearby as it wasn’t remaining on long enough when triggered. Having collected the ladder and tools I did those two small jobs then I decided to get the hose out and water the garden as we hadn’t had much rain for a while. Then I noticed a bluebell growing behind one of the small plants in the Mound. Out came the tools and kneeling stool and I began to dig it out. I really had to dig deep and in the process dug out quite a few bulbs. Did I mention that I consider bluebells to be a weed, yes, nice weeds but still weeds? Time to go indoors for another coffee and watch the FA cup semi-final game (soccer). Do I ever rest?
I couldn’t get to sleep on Friday night until way after two o’clock despite my nodding off in front of the television before I set off to bed. Maybe the ‘cat naps’ had been enough to keep me awake but I did eventually fall asleep. That meant I ended up sleeping in until nine-thirty and missing breakfast. When I finally got downstairs and carrying laundry I put it into the washing machine then went for a walk. I wasn’t hungry so I didn’t miss not having breakfast. It was another pleasant day, still cloudy but reasonably warm with no wind whatsoever. Soon I was on my way back home to do some household chores, taking out the waste, cleaning the bins, hanging up the washing, vacuuming the carpets, you know, all the mundane stuff in life that has to be done. Once upon a time I didn’t much like doing household chores but in more recent times I find I actually enjoy it! Am I crazy or what? Not really, after all it is work and something therefore I enjoy. When I was very young I was the only one among my siblings who like helping out at home. I would prepare meals, wash and scrub the floors and other things most children shy away from. I won’t say that my brothers and sisters didn’t help out but from what I can remember I was the one who encouraged them to help. That was probably because I was the eldest. They remember me as ‘bossy boots’ and I probably was but I got hings done. So was my Saturday all chores and no rest? No, I am not that crazy! I get restless though and soon find myself looking for things to do but the problem with household chores is that they never seem to end, by the time you think you’ve done everything you have come full circle and have to begin again. When I finally retire from my electrical work (perhaps) I know there will be plenty of work to do around and inside the house to keep me occupied………………but that is life isn’t it?
What a lovely day Sunday was, warm, dry and sunny practically all day long. There was only the slightest of a breeze, more a zephyr most of the time. I spent quite a few hours outside enjoying it. The only part of the garden that was damp was the grass and that only because of dew. The artificial grass on the patio was naturally also damp too. Almost two weeks ago saw the Equinox marking the beginning of Autumn but Autumn proper seemed far off on Sunday. It felt more like Summer. The week ahead looked promising too but I knew at this time of year it can suddenly turned wet, windy and cold. I still had some work to do outdoors if the weather could remain dry for me to do it. I had three small areas around the paving slabs I had laid on the Plot which needed filling in with a fine concrete mix and perhaps do some cosmetic work around the base of the new lamp-post using natural stones. There was also one other job I might be able to do sometime during the week but that would need the tower erecting at the front of the building. I had hinted at the possibility of doing this unusual job many months ago but didn’t get around to doing it. On Friday I had paid a visit to a local establishment which services and sells lawnmowers. It is noted for the lawnmower museum they have there ( http://www.lawnmowerworld.co.uk/gallery.php?location=0 ) but apart from their lawnmower business they are also master locksmiths. Part of their shop is dedicated to that trade and they sell all kinds of things to do with locks and door furniture. They also program vehicle keys and lock systems which is why I was there. Recently I’d had a replacement control unit fitted around the steering column of my van and later it was discovered that the key no longer controlled the automatic door locking system though it still works manually. Neither the auto electrician nor the locksmith could resolve the problem which still exists. I can live with operating it manually and I will leave it that way unless I come across a solution. Anyway whilst at the store waiting to see if the locksmith could set things right I noticed that they also sold natural stone (slate) plaques with signage. I made inquiries regarding cost to have one made to size for my needs. It would cost £150 I was told so I agreed to have one made. They told me it would be ready to collect a couple of days hence, perhaps Monday. Now I know you will be wondering what the plaque was for and what was to be written on it. It will read…’Hassle Castle…..1877′ and it is to be fixed to the wall at the front of the house at high level. The house was built in 1877. I mentioned the purchase to my neighbour who thinks the idea highly amusing but liked it. I think the same. I may be able to attach a picture before this is scheduled to be posted but if not I will post one later.
Up early again on Wednesday to do more work on the Plot. Wednesday was an ideal day for working outdoors being as it was slightly cooler than of late. After an early breakfast I was outside at a little after eight o’clock and was soon working. I didn’t have to set up the mixer so I was pretty much able to get straight to work. My main object for the day was to finish building the walled enclosure, its inner walls. I managed to do that but I may take the structure up one more level of bricks as I have discovered I have sixty-three bricks remaining and to lay another course will take forty-eight bricks. As it stands (Wednesday) there are seven courses of bricks. Of course I will be topping the walls with natural stone in keeping with the patio brickwork. In this picture the work has been temporarily covered because rain was forecast for Thursday and I wanted the walls to remain dry. Now then, I had finished with mixing mortar for the day as it was approaching lunchtime and I wasn’t prepared to carry on working into the afternoon. Rather than do nothing I chose to remove part of the wall alongside the path and dig out the soil behind it as you can see in the bottom right of the picture. I then laid some old bricks and rubble as a base for some concrete upon which I will lay a paving slab later. Eventually there will be three steps to match those I constructed a couple of years ago shown on the left in the picture. The plastic sheet standing there covers what is left of the four hundred bricks I had delivered for the work. There are sixty-three of them as I mentioned. Before I can fill the structure with soil I have to ‘point’ the internal walls, that is fill in all the gaps in the joints. Later I will have to do the same with the outer surfaces of the construction. I had my lunch and then spent a few minutes on the patio but was disturbed by a phone call from the auto-electrician who had been repairing the fault of my van’s lighting switches. I walked to their workshop about a mile away and collected the van. The guy had to replace the whole mechanism which slides over the steering column and to which the control stalks are fitted. The cost for the replacement and fitting it? £246! I knew it wouldn’t be cheap but I didn’t expect it to be quite as expensive. I’m going to need a couple more electrical jobs to offset the outlay. Fortunately the work is still coming in.
I spend more time at home these days and far less at my electrical business but I am almost never idle when at home. It is about that time when we can switch off the central heating system, though if it were only myself to consider it would have been switched off long ago. E feels the cold more than I do so it had to stay on just that little bit longer. The reason I want it off is so I can work on the system changing radiator valves, fitting a towel rail in the wet room and carrying out an alteration to pipes in the airing cupboard in the bathroom. All the jobs are individually simple and not time-consuming though it will take time to do them all. Before that work was undertaken I intended to get the artificial lawn laid on the patio. On Wednesday morning at around eight o’clock the front door bells sounded, it was the guys delivering the artificial turf. I wasn’t dressed and there was no way I would be answering the door. E however doesn’t bother about such things and she answered the door in her dressing gown. After breakfast I called the guy who would be fitting it just to let him know it was here. He called later to look at it as he has to source a suitable adhesive. At the time of writing he hasn’t set a date for doing it though he did say he might do it soon whilst the weather is good. Meanwhile I sprinkled some soda and water over the patio floor where moss had spread itself thinly in one part in order to kill it off. Later I was able to brush most of it away but had to resort to getting on my hands and knees with a steel wire brush to remove the stubborn bits. I also used a gas torch to burn some of it but finally it was clean and ready for the adhesive. I did some work around one of the rainwater grids which took some time. Basically I removed the plastic cover and set in place an open metal grating instead. Earlier in the year I had heavily pruned back the two main apple trees and had temporarily stowed away the branches. E and I got the wood chipping machine out and set it up to chip the branches. It is the yellow and black machine in this picture below. Nearby stands an old ‘Aqua Vac’ in red and grey which we had stored up in a small attic space at the top of the house. It is damaged but usable and though it can now only be used for vacuuming up water it may come in handy for vacuuming rainwater off the artificial turf when it is laid. Summer showers happen don’t they? The picture also shows the petrol mower in yellow, an electric mower in turquoise behind it, a cement mixer in blue, a wheelbarrow and hidden behind them another electric mower and strimmer. The artificial turf lies rolled up in the foreground waiting to be fitted.Anyway E had to go out later and I took over chipping up the branches. We got quite a lot of wood chippings which we bagged for use in the garden. Amongst some of the other things we did was to take out the carpet and mattress from the garage ready for collection the next day by the council waste disposal team. We were both very tired having spent many hours working throughout the day.
Over the years we have purchased many carpets but on Saturday we drove off to our local floor covering specialist to purchase a new carpet for the bedroom we have refurbished. They cater for all types of floor coverings and not just carpets though I suspect carpets are their main trade. We took along one of our curtains to be sure of getting a suitable colour match and we were only in the shop a minute when the salesman offered us a sample piece of carpet which met our requirements. It is similar to the colour of the fourth swatch from the left on the top line in the picture shown. Even though I was completely satisfied with the match E wanted to see if there was anything else that might also be suitable. It was a no-brainer, the first one was the right one and we went ahead with the purchase having given the salesman the dimensions of the room. He asked for a deposit but we chose to pay the whole amount up-front. We will have to pay the carpet fitter separately when he comes to fit it. The fitter will arrive this Friday afternoon to lay it. Whilst we were there we made enquiries regarding the price to supply and fit artificial grass on the patio. We will have to take measurements to see what we will need when we decide to have it done, hopefully in the not too distant future. We left the shop a mere twelve minutes after we arrived. E still has to find someone to fit a lining to the curtains though I am sure we could do it ourselves if we set our minds to. It isn’t that difficult and we do possess a sewing machine. Perhaps it is easier to have someone else do it I suppose. I had taken the van out of the garage earlier in the morning to gave it a wash, actually the first of the year believe it or not. As I don’t do many miles it doesn’t get too dirty unless it has been raining, though this time it really did need a clean. I wanted to wash it because the weather forecast had indicated we were in for windy and wet days over the weekend and I might not have had the time later. Saturday morning was supposed to start off that way but it wasn’t until noon before it actually began to rain. After our lunch I received a phone call regarding the faulty television I’d had taken away for repairs. The guy told me it was unrepairable because the parts necessary to repair it were no longer available. The television is more than ten years old, one of the first flat screen televisions generally available then with a 42″ screen. I had an idea it would need replacing and was prepared for that. So with that in mind E and I decided to go and buy a new set and off we went to the retail park. It didn’t take us long, or rather me long to choose the set I wanted. Initially we looked at some 55″ screens but then I saw a few 65″ screens and thought I might buy one of those instead. The lounge it is going in is big enough for a larger screen. I saw one that I liked and it was on offer at a reduced price and as we would be paying more than £1000 there was a further discount of 10%. That clinched the deal though I also opted to buy a three-year no quibble insurance to cover any mechanical or software problems that may ensue. There is only one drawback and that is the set is too wide to fit onto my glass table but I will overcome that problem by buying another piece of toughened glass to sit upon the table. Hopefully the set will arrive this coming Sunday. We left the store and walked a couple of metres into the furniture store next door and within twenty minutes we had left having purchased the bed for the refurbished bedroom. More spends! My flexible friends took care of payment once again. The bed will arrive next Thursday, that is on the 7th. The carpet we purchased earlier will be laid as I said this Friday with any hope. We drove home and the plan was to remain at home until after the Easter weekend with nothing to do but relax. I am not sure I can last that long without having something to do but we’ll see.
Thursday morning and up until early afternoon the weather had been really cold but it felt even colder because of the wind. Finer weather was promised for Friday and the weekend but first there would be rain. Two guys turned up in the morning to continue with the front steps, mainly measuring and cutting the stone slabs which form the steps themselves. About five and a half years ago at a time when we were having extensive repairs and alterations to the house and grounds we had the original steps taken up and natural stone slabs laid instead but since then we have decided to have those steps nearest the front door altered for easier access. The steps in question are those three immediately outside the front doors in this picture taken shortly after their construction. This is the work now being carried out along with the rebuilding of part of the rear garden wall. Well the wall is almost complete as of today, Thursday, there being only a couple of things left to do with it. The steps would have been almost completed too except that this afternoon the weather stopped progress, the rains came as we knew they would and it has slowly begun to get warmer. However, there is now nobody here to carry on with the work because the rain prevents it. I am hoping to see their return in the morning but I am not sure if they will. I will be away from home on an electrical job, at least for the morning. We cannot use the front entrance until the work is completed and that means we have to go through the garage to enter through a rear door, not the most convenient way I admit but we have to put up with it for now. Late in the morning we had a visit from the bedroom furniture installers, actually someone to take precise measurements and to schedule the work. We have elected to have the room furniture delivered during the last week in February and sometime during the following week to have it installed. The work we have been told will take three to four days to complete. We now have a month to carry out other work like the electrics and some of the decorating. We are leaving off painting the walls as advised until the furniture is fitted. Now I know more about the furniture’s measurements I can install the new power outlets without fear of putting them in the wrong places. The old ceiling light has been removed and the ubiquitous holder on a flex fitted as a temporary unit until we purchase a more suitable light fitting.
My best laid plans often do go astray because of weather, other problems, other commitments, other people, many reasons though never because I am lazy. I therefore sometimes get frustrated when I cannot get on with my plans. Such was the case on Tuesday. I was to get the stone slabs cut and then fit them on top of the two small flowerbeds I had finished constructing and filling the day before. The first problem was having to wait for the guys to cut the stone, after all they were doing me a favour so I couldn’t press them. As it turned out I collected them around one o’clock but decided not to do the work then as I wanted to take E out for a meal. Wednesday morning would do just fine. In my previous post my readers will know what happened on Tuesday afternoon with the flagpole so even had I wanted to do the work the time was taken up fixing that problem. I put on my overalls and set about cutting two of the now narrow stone slabs to the right length with my own little grinding machine. I had thought I would have to make four such cuts but I discovered it wasn’t necessary. I placed them on the walls to see where each piece would fit best. I then mixed the mortar by hand and laid them all in place. I put some things over the joints as a temporary measure in case it rained. Rain was forecast throughout the afternoon. E was keen to put in the tree bark chippings but left it until Thursday morning to allow the capping stones to set firmly in place. Here are the results………..
Now I can say the patio flowerbed project is finally complete..Now for the next little project…..
I had a very restless night on Sunday, kept waking up about every two hours but even my sleep periods were quite shallow. I had things on my mind and I guess I wasn’t tired enough having done little over the weekend. It follows that unless I work hard enough I don’t sleep well. I arose feeling almost as tired as when I went to bed, probably more so after all that tossing and turning. I had an appointment to keep at nine o’clock, an electrical job and had plenty of time to get there as it was local. On Saturday E and I were out buying things for the garden project and we had ordered another ton of soil which was to be delivered on Monday morning. I was about to leave the house just after eight o’clock because I had to make a visit to the electrical supplier before going to the job and the guy delivering the soil turned up. He was about to dump the bag in the wrong place so I dashed outside and stopped him. He had placed the previous load of soil in a specific spot to one side and behind the gate as I had requested only a few days before so he ought to have remembered to place the new delivery in the same spot. Had I not caught him before he dropped the load I would have had great difficulty in getting out of the gate with my van. I drove off to work but was back home by ten o’clock. There was no way I would be moving any soil for a couple of hours as I was feeling quite drained. After an hour and a cup of coffee though I was feeling fit again and ready to go but I decided to eat lunch first. At noon E went out with her sister who wanted her support while she arranged a new contract for her mobile phone service. As soon as she left the house I donned my overalls and set about moving the soil barrow by barrow into the new patio flowerbeds and planting the two Phoenix Canariensis plants in them leaving plenty of surrounding space for E to bed her new flowering plants as we did with the main flowerbed. I had other work to do, empty and refill the compost barrel, a large container which reduces garden waste to form a rich compost. I also made a start in digging out some weeds in one of the front garden flowerbeds which has been sadly neglected for too long. I was able to dump some of the new soil there but there is more work to do there yet which I will probably do while I have the opportunity. E returned home before four o’clock and put the plants in the flowerbeds. I moved the two plant pots that originally housed the two larger Phoenix Canariensis plants that are now in the main flowerbed, in front of the patio and filled them so that E could plant some bulbs in them. I also moved the two redundant pots which held the smaller Phoenix plants I had just put in the two small flowerbeds onto the steps and E put bulbs in them too. At last most of the work on and around the patio was done but at the time of writing this far I have yet to fit the stone capping on the walls and lay some tree bark chippings in and around the plants in the small flowerbeds. I didn’t get to place the stone capping until Wednesday morning.